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I've been familiar with Nathan Shumate-- or at least his video reviews-- for a very long time, having read Cold Fusion Video since its inception (or close to it), even having helped ferret out typos in reviews.* I've only recently found out that Nathan also has a background in fiction writing (and editing, as he had provided such service for the PDF-based magazine Arkham Tales and the upcoming Arcane Magazine). Nathan's debut novel (more of a novella, at 19 chapters and 87 pages, plus a 4-page preview for the next book) The Demon Cross has just come out and he kindly offered me a preview copy to read.

Now read on.Collapse )

The Demon Cross at Amazon, in Kindle and print-on-demand versions.

Jar Pie!

I had bookmarked the how-to of these pies from Our Best Bites some time ago, but just hadn't gotten around to it until now.

I actually meant to make these on Pi Day (3/14), but the DST shift left me kind of low-functioning. I suppose I could always try again on Little Endian Pi Day (April 31st, or 31/4, since that format displays the day first rather than the month), or Little Endian Pi Approximation Day (July 22nd).

More below.Collapse )


Peanut Butter Tarts for Valentine's.

Another new recipe from the Small Batch Baking book.

Pictures below.Collapse )

UPDATED! The tarts plated, though the attempts to artfully squiggle the extra peanut cream filling made more of a tasty puddle:

And Dan found it very tasty.

Great Round Reuben Loaf!

Dan lobbied for me to make this for Puppy Bowl Sunday (okay, we did watch the second half of the football, which seemed to have all the interesting stuff anyway).

It's a fairly complicated recipe from the Shirley Corriher book Cookwise, and it was a learning experience.

Bunch of images below.Collapse )

It all started with a toilet paper holder.

For some guests, it was just a little farther away than was comfortable to reach. Plus whoever put it up got it on crooked. So off the wall it comes. Along with some plaster. Patching the wall is fine, but it means repainting. And we never thought much of a plain white bathroom.

Somehow it just kept going.

A couple more pictures underneath.Collapse )


If nothing else, you can at least be fascinated by the disturbing psychosexual aspects of a sorcery trial that got Urban Grandier executed by burning, as well as the political machinations that led up to said trial and execution (not to mention some awesomely horrible descriptions of interrogational torture and exorcism by enema-- I wish I was making that last one up).

But what you really need to read it for is to engrave passages like these on your brain:

There are many people for whom hate and rage pay a larger dividend of immediate satisfaction than love. Congenitally aggressive, they soon become adrenalin addicts, deliberately indulging their ugliest passions for the sake of the 'kick' they derive from their psychically stimulated endocrines. Knowing that one self-assertion always ends by evoking other and hostile self-assertions, they sedulously cultivate their truculence. And, sure enough, very soon they find themselves in the thick of a fight. But a fight is what they most enjoy; for it is while they are fighting that their blood chemistry makes them feel most intensely themselves. 'Feeling good,' they naturally assume that they are good. Adrenalin addiction is rationalized as Righteous Indignation and finally, like the prophet Jonah, they are convinced, unshakably, that they do well to be angry.

Partisan loyalty is socially disastrous; but for individuals it can be richly rewarding-- more rewarding, in many ways, than even concupiscence or avarice. Whoremongers and money-grubbers find it hard to feel very proud of their activities. But partisanship is a complex passion which permits those who indulge in it to make the best of both worlds. Because they do these things for the sake of a group which is, by definition, good and even sacred, they can admire themselves and loathe their neighbors, they can seek power and money, can enjoy the pleasures of aggression and cruelty, not merely without feeling guilty, but with a positive glow of conscious virtue. Loyalty to their group transforms these pleasant vices into acts of heroism. Partisans are aware of themselves, not as sinners or criminals, but as altruists and idealists. And with certain qualifications, this is in fact what they are. The only trouble is that their altruism is merely egoism at one remove, and that the ideal, for which they are really in many cases to lay down their lives, is nothing but the rationalization of corporate interests and party passions.

... at all times, all too many Christians have behaved as though the devil were a First Principle, on the same footing as God. They have paid more attention to evil and the problem of its eradications than to good and the methods by which individual goodness may be deepened, and the sum of goodness increased. The effects which follow too constant and intense a concentration upon evil are always disastrous. Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes even perceptibly worse than it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself.

Bathroom fixture.

I actually liked the bathroom fixture that was in the hall bathroom-- except for its brushed nickel color, as we're putting bronze hardware in there (there's an identical one in the master suite bathroom, but it'll be replaced as we're going with a more contemporary/geometric look for hardware there).

So I decided to try painting it.

Here's the lamp apart, on the floor. (Yeah, there's only 8 fixture screws. We got a scare later when we thought we lost one). After taping up the sockets to avoid paint getting in them, and scuffing the glossy coating with steel wool to make sure paint would bond to it, the fixture was sprayed with black primer, and then a layer of Kryolon copper paint.

It was finally finished off with Rustoleum's Oil Rubbed Bronze paint, which I recommend with a caveat-- the color's pretty nice, but the can has a weird trigger mechanism that takes some getting used to. A couple of early sprays ended up with droplets splatting on the surface, though Dan didn't think it was a problem. I had intended for more of the copper to show up under the surface, but the spray gave very good coverage. In some areas, lightly scuffing the fixture with a fine sanding sponge brought out the copper (the trick wasn't scraping too much or else it would just show bare metal).

Finally, everything was put back together, including a painted replacement for the missing fixture screw.

I think it came out pretty well. The trick'll be getting it back on the wall now...


The thrift store eye letting you find an old Pottery Barn beauty and make it a quasi-steampunk reading lamp?


May. 21st, 2010

The funny thing is, it wasn't even all THAT hectic, it's just... oh, I dunno. It's definitely not like when my in-laws were here. They're quieter folks in general, happy to sit and read (with me occasionally coming in and saying "You sure you don't need anything?"). By contrast, when my parents weren't watching various TV shows (nothing wrong with that-- it's just that we don't watch a whole lotta TV ourselves anymore) my mom was puttering around the house fixing stuff or thinking of things we ought to pick up. Even if I was taking a nap. Let's face it, rare is the mom who decides to spend a chunk of Mother's Day reupholstering her daughter's kitchen chairs!

Anyway, they were here from the 5th to the 10th, and what transpired.Collapse )

That was so much that I think I'll save a few things for a followup post.

New sofa table!

Given the placement and size of our sofa relative to the living room's fireplace, a coffee table would tend to take up too much room, so:

This sofa table (or console table, they call it) from Target was ordered last Saturday and arrived tonight. The lighting in the photo makes it look much darker than it is-- it's actually a rich brown with reddish tones like the table under the clock. It'll be a good place for sitters to put a drink (on a coaster, please!). My parents have offered to bring up a table runner with a books and gargoyles design that ought to look very nice on it.